Archive for Friday, October 20, 2017

Opinion: Was Weinstein’s behavior sexist, or just bad?

October 20, 2017


What makes Harvey Weinsteins?

The chief of Amazon studios, Roy Price, has now resigned in the wake of allegations that he made lewd comments and propositioned a producer. Lists of accused sexual predators in Hollywood and journalism are circulating on social media. President Donald Trump’s long history of pawing and gawking at women has again reached center stage.

Actress Alyssa Milano, one of Weinstein’s targets, fumed, ‘’This is not an uncommon occurrence. This is a sick culture. Men like Harvey Weinstein are around every corner. Men who undermine women and their strength, ability and intelligence exist everywhere.’’

This is a common theme you find in feminist thinking. Harassment and even sexual assault are seen as part of the spectrum of sexism. It begins with disparagement of women’s abilities and intelligence; then progresses to making them sexual objects; and finally results in abuse and even rape.

The ‘’MeToo’’ hashtag and related posts on Facebook are intended as a feminist rallying cry. The Feministing website explains, ‘’Gender violence doesn’t exist without white supremacy (such as racism, colonialism, zionism (sic), militarism.’’

That’s hard to beat for dimness. In China, according to a UN study, 23 percent admit to rape. In Papua New Guinea, 61 percent of men say the same.

What if boorishness isn’t a form of sexism, but merely bad behavior? Let’s face it, many a flagrant lecher — Bill Clinton, anyone? — has been a stalwart and possibly even sincere feminist. Many a womanizer seeks absolution for his grubby conduct by ostentatious displays of political correctness. The louts seem to calculate that they earn gropes for every contribution to Emily’s List or the National Organization for Women. Weinstein offered a particularly pathetic appeal to left-wing sympathies by declaring that he would train even more fire on the NRA.

Feminism made a critical misstep when it joined forces with the sexual revolution in the 1970s. Women needed more outlets for their sexuality, they claimed. Traditional notions about women being more interested in relationships than in casual encounters were outmoded. In 2014, feminist Hanna Rosin looked forward, only slightly tongue-in-cheek, to an era when women would surpass men in sex scandals.

For decades feminists have made abortion the signature feminist issue — thus signaling that consequence-free sex for men (who don’t undergo the surgery and heartbreak) was a key goal. Feminists may not have intended to thereby send the message that they were all in on the sexual free-for-all, but some men concluded as much nonetheless. Feminists set themselves a contradictory task — to insist that men and women were indistinguishable in their sexual tastes and appetites but then to demand that men respect women’s particular reserve.

It would be healthier for our culture — about which Alyssa Milano is not wrong — if feminism were more realistic about human nature. Male sexual aggressiveness has been a challenge every civilization has had to manage. Among some Orthodox Jews, one answer is to set such strict limits on contacts between the sexes that men do not even touch women they are not related to — not even to shake hands. This can lead to other problems when Orthodox men’s reticence is misunderstood by others, but it isn’t crazy. How many of us have been hugged a little too long and a little too aggressively by men taking advantage of the fact that they can get away with it?

I could easily sign on the #MeToo campaign. Sexual harassment cost me a summer job in college. But the ‘’men equal bad, women equal good’’ slogan is a bit too simplistic. I’ve seen my share of women behaving badly, too. Older women very seldom demand sexual favors from younger men (sorry, Hanna Rosin), but I’ve seen young women use sex to get ahead in workplaces, sometimes targeting other women’s husbands. And I’ve known men of all backgrounds, religious affiliations and political views who were perfect gentlemen not because they were feminists but because they were raised right.

A more realistic approach to sexual misbehavior would be to acknowledge that the temptation is always there. Most men aren’t predators — but why make it easier for those who are by pretending that a business meeting in a hotel room is anything other than wrong? Even in offices, an open door is a good policy when a man and woman are alone.

Perhaps the slogan we need — for both sexes — is #BeDecent.

— Mona Charen is a columnist with Creators Syndicate.


Bob Summers 5 months ago

Weinstein is under the influence of DRD4 gene polymorphism.

See rock stars Bill Clinton or Carlos Danger for detailed evidence of the conditions impact on the male behavior.

Sexual predation is typical how a male under the influence behaves around the female.

This articles defense of sexual predatory males is typical of people with the genetic condition.

P Allen Macfarlane 5 months ago

It's a shame we only have access to a thumbs up icon on this site. Thumbs down!

Bob Summers 5 months ago

Denial is another defense for the sexual predator's indefensible behavior.

Why are you and Mona defending them?

What makes Harvey Weinsteins?

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 5 months ago

So does this explain Trump's behavior, Bob? Wow.

Ken Lassman 5 months ago

Let me be as specific and analytic as possible for you, Bob. Are there different personality types? Yes. Do different personality types prefer to use different problem solving strategies? Yes. Do these different problem strategies use different neural pathways? Sometimes. Do different problem solving strategies preclude other kinds of problem solving strategies? Absolutely not. Can a person who uses analytical reasoning to solve problems be capable of utilizing insights to supplement their analyses? Absolutely. Can a person who uses insight-based problem solving strategies also incorporate analytic approaches to supplement their tendencies? Absolutely. Is it best to have access to the best insight-based and analytic based problem solving? Almost always. Accounts of D-day invasion provides an example of how Allied forces outmaneuvered and disrupted the defensive Axis forces because of their superior ability to think on their feet after their leadership got blown away, i.e. deal with novelty. Accounts of getting the Apollo 13 astronauts back after their ship was seriously crippled by an on-board explosion is an example of utilizing the best in both analytic reasoning and in insightful strategizing in a novel situation.

Your DRD4 ideology pathologizes novelty/insight based thinking/personalities instead of seeing it as a valued resource for society, just as there are those who try and pathologize pure analytic approaches to problem solving. You take the next even more dangerous step of saying that it not only is a pathology, but it is a genetic mutation that must be stamped out. Just stop it, Bob. You are wrong and capable of understanding that it is wrong to do that.

Pete Kennamore 5 months ago

Even more useful would be an "block" button

Ken Lassman 5 months ago

Bob, The only person under the influence of the DRD4 gene is you. Your genetic behavior determinism theory has grown to be eternally boring. Until you can point to a peer-journal article that shows the deterministic nature of your pet genetic variation, you are flat wrong. Either put up or shut up, Bob.

Louis Kannen 5 months ago

Double thumbs up for Mona Charen's on-point views re our current Social Mores morass.

Bob Smith 5 months ago

His behavior was worthy of the Burdizzo treatment.

Calvin Anders 5 months ago

I believe Ms. Charen quite intentionally misses the point. The behaviour is facilitated and supported by the culture. Weinstein could never have gotten away with years of sexual harassment and assault had his industry not tenaciously ignored or rationalized his behaviour. Women have many stories about seeking help with his inappropriate actions, only to be told over and over that the behaviour was reasonable. The behaviour is so common in the entertainment industry that it is normalized by the extent to which it is tolerated. Similarly throughout our society and all over the world, cultures almost universally minimize the seriousness of inappropriate behaviour and tend to blame victims. That's the sexism. And Weinstein only engaged in such behaviour because he was confident it would be tolerated.

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